Bernard Farley (aka Outputmessage) has a clear advantage over a great many other producers: the man's got a clear talent for hooks and a keen command of song structure. Such talents are convincingly on view throughout Autonomous, issued on Farley's own Output Noise Records imprint, just as they were on 2006's debut LP, Nebulae, and 2008's Resurface EP. Two years in the making, Autonomous features twelve effervescent and radiant electropop pop song constructions filled with thick bass lines, blazing synthesizer melodies, and Farley's vocals. The songs adhere to a basic sonic template of beats (many songs underpinned by a schaffel-like swing), synths, and vocals but Farley gets maximum mileage out of the materials. Luckily for Outputmessage fans, his singing proves to be an appealing enhancement to what has been previously an exclusively instrumental style (an unfortunate whiff of what sounds like Autotune surfaces during “Glintz (Vocal),” making it the sole vocal misstep).
Even what for what some producers would be a throwaway—the album-inaugurating “Prelude”—is in Farley's hands a pulsating three minutes of electropop splendour. And the album's other instrumental, “Tuesday,” turns out to be just as joyous a ride, especially when its sugary main theme proves to be one of the album's most seductive moments. Serious themes sometimes emerge, but Farley opts for resilience rather than resignation by transmuting sadness into catchy pop songs. Though “N.Y.R.” was inspired by his best friend's suicide, the song's message and vibe proves uplifting and hopeful as Farley finds the silver lining in tragedy (“This year, gonna make a resolution / This year, gotta make a contribution”). A similar sense of uplift drives “Resurface (Vocal)” (“Resurface, get up and try again”), “Get Away,” an electro-funk paen for escape that brims with echoes of Italo and disco, and “I Remember,” a supple marriage of pop, electro, and dance musics that features City Rain.